So should you get married? Some of you might say YES, others might say NO, but I believe the answer is much more complicated than we think or maybe I should say less straightforward.
I am not sure anyone can truly answer that question, even those that are in successful marriages. I mean, there are just so many variables, so many moving parts (don’t get me started on dealing with human beings and how complicated our feelings and emotions can be). Look, I don’t know if the idea of marriage is overrated and outdated. I don’t know how realistic it is in this current society. I don’t know if it is possible to maintain and successfully manage a relationship for the long term. However, if I may, please allow me to share with you, our journey to “I DO”. Maybe this might help you to somewhat draw a reasonable conclusion; somewhere in between YES and NO.
OUR STORIES BEFORE OUR STORY
This is a universal truth, there is always a story before a story. Before Tunde (my husband) and I met, we both had our separate lives with different experiences. They were full of ups and downs that had shaped us, from infants to the adults that we are today. Prior to any relationship, it’s imperative to understand who you are as an individual. Your past doesn’t disappear, the hurt, the pain, the joy, they all don’t go away because you are with someone new. There is usually a residual side effect with most experiences, good or bad and they can shape you, even long after that experience is gone. Failure to understand that would leave one unprepared for what is to come. You must be able to positively learn from the past so you can be the best version of yourself for you or for your current/future partner. This is the foundation for a healthy and stable relationship. And if you are not there yet, well, there is nothing wrong with pausing for some good old self-reflection. Everyone has a story. (More about this on a future blog post). Oh yes, our journey started…
December 31st, 2016, the day Tunde and I met. But first, a little walk down memory lane. So, prior to that day, we actually almost met a few times. We had mutual friends who would have get-togethers, parties or just hangouts. Every time there was an event we were both invited to, one of us would be present but never at the same time. Always, now this is where it gets interesting, even when we would both agree to go to the same event, something always came up last minute for either of us, where again, one of us would be there but never there at the same time. Anyway, it was literally a near miss. It was like the universe was either conspiring for us or against us, depending on how you see it. The only logical explanation we could think of was if we had met any other time before that, we probably wouldn’t have been ready for each other. This was the start of our journey to “I DO”. Timing is everything guys, oh and gingersnap cookies, and we are only partially joking about the latter. Seriously. Gingersnap cookies are life.
“Cherish that day, there is this freedom, this excitement you feel when you meet someone potentially important. Don’t let your pride or ego ruin it, soak it all in. Trust me, you will appreciate that memory years later, it is, in my opinion, one of the single most important memories of any relationship. That’s why I always tell you, Wendy, that I wished I really looked at you new years eve of 16. sigh those memories, the innocence of that first interaction. Simply beautiful. I love you.” – Tunde
I almost settled, when your heart doesn’t feel right about something, it’s probably not right. Most of the time it isn’t wise to go against your heart. Unless your heart doesn’t want gingersnap cookies, then totally go against your heart. Some more back-story, so Tunde and I are both from Nigeria in West Africa, and there is a certain way parenting is done. The foundation of most parenting across the world is love but there is a certain level to African parents more specifically Nigerian. Can I get a high five? No? Cool, I’ll just high five myself. Anyway, before I met my Tunde (I don’t like calling him my husband, because you know, he has a name and all), my parents had been on my neck to settle down. To get married, to find a man. There had been a few guys who expressed their interest in me as a wife, they jumped the whole girlfriend phase (I am shaking my head in my head). My parents validated them because of their financial and social status (remember the next level point about Nigerian parents above? Yeah) and, to be honest guys I felt the pressure. I am the first-born child, I was at “the age” for marriage (whatever that means) and I constantly felt I had to please my parents, plus society’s subtle nudging as well. It’s like there were weddings everywhere, EVERYWHERE. I mean we are human. It was a lot. However, at the same time, something did not feel right. My heart kept bugging me. I knew I didn’t want to sacrifice my happiness and my future for my family in this way or to conform just because. It was really tough, I wanted meaning, I wanted something more natural. So I fought, I fought myself, I fought my parents, I fought to have the right to make “my” choice. A few times I was emotionally blackmailed and labeled as the bad guy, irresponsible, not serious, etc but I held on, as long as I could. That’s why I believe Tunde and I met at the right time, who knows, I might have buckled under pressure and became a statistic. I wanted to choose my partner because I wanted to, not because I was pressured into it. Don’t settle for, “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know”. (African adage) Devil na Devil. Look, your happiness is more important, it might take a while for the guy or girl to come but it’s better to wait or be single than to live with regrets.
Do you really talk? Tunde always says, “The Wendy I know now, is definitely not the Wendy I met.” this normally has a negative connotation to it and I can kinda see why. But I really believe that there is nothing wrong with that. People usually put their best foot forward, it’s self-preservation, we want to be liked, we want to be appreciated and we want to be loved. There is nothing fake about putting your best foot forward when you meet someone. It’s with time you get to know each other better and honest communication is one of the most important ways of achieving this. So simply put, we encourage talking about everything, from money, gingersnap cookies, intimacy, past experiences (good and bad), I mean EVERYTHING. I remember early on Tunde and I were trying to protect each other from the negative aspects of ourselves or I guess what we thought were negatives. So certain topics were either vaguely discussed or sidetracked. The fear of someone you like or love seeing you differently after you become vulnerable is real. Look, a relationship should be a judgment-free zone like planet fitness is for people trying to get in shape. Hiding our weaknesses and issues didn’t solve anything, they only caused more problems down the line. You were someone before them, don’t forget that. Until we started communicating honestly and being vulnerable with each other were we truly able to grow and understand our individuality better. It’s scary to be vulnerable, YES but trust me, it not as scary when you are being vulnerable with the right person. Each time you open up, it’s like peeling off a layer of onion and revealing a part of yourself to your partner, your true self.
“Let them choose you for who you are, nothing more nothing less, the main difference between you and an ex is choice.” -Tunde
How long have you been dating him/her? One year and 10 months. That’s it. That’s how long it took from when we met to when we got married. 22 months. People usually argue about the longevity of a relationship before getting married, or the validity of that relationship based on how long you have been together. How long should you wait before you get married after you have met someone? What’s the acceptable time frame? Do you date for at least 3 years before “I do”, do you have to live with them for a certain amount of time? After the proposal what is the engagement period? Do you do a 5-year engagement? We are all focused on the wrong factor, quantity. The truth is there isn’t a particular time frame. It’s not the quantity of time with the person that matters. It’s the quality of it. The only way you can truly define that is by your value system, honesty and being intentional. That goes for both of you. I know this issue can be very controversial with differing opinions and we can respect that, but the truth is there are a lot of reasons why people separate or get divorced and it is not because of the length of time they knew each other before they got married. Be intentional and be accountable.
The proposal. It was very unexpected, to say the least, the timing and the method. First, it was on his birthday, which was a good disguise and because I just wasn’t expecting it. We had come a long way, individually and collectively (future blog post, I promise) and we were at a point in this journey where I was just contented, happy, living. I really didn’t expect it, I was planning his birthday while he was planning our engagement secretly. And the people we both love dearly were there to witness it all, family and friends. Shout-out to all the loving support systems out there. That day was a great surprise for me, I was very emotional, I couldn’t believe he was proposing to me while it was actually happening. It kind of felt like an out of body experience, everything was sloooooow motiooooooooon. It’s so interesting, you know when you watch movies, or you see clips of people getting engaged, and you get emotional, not for you but for them and you never actually imagine yourself in that position. That was me. I honestly don’t remember what he said, thank God for video recordings.
After the proposal, when the curtains were closed, and all the well-wishers had gone home, we had a serious conversation. I don’t know what prompted it to be honest. A while back though I do remember My Dad telling, not asking, but telling both of us if we knew what we were getting into. Like truly know. When the “honeymoon phase” subsides did we really understand what we were doing? I think that’s what did it because even as all the excitement was roaring inside us, we knew the journey just began and it will be full of ups and downs. With 100% vulnerability and uncertainty we asked each other the very important questions, “Do we know what we are getting ourselves into and do we understand the requirements?” And the answer was NO. How could we? There are so many requirements for marriage? Depending on whom you talk to or who you get your advice from. Side note advice is not a verb: it’s what we do with it that becomes a bit tricky, good or bad.
They may be material based, they may be religious, and they may even be deal breakers for you. We weren’t really prepped for this part of the journey and our parents, even though as individuals are the epitome of strength, sacrifice, and love, as couples, their marriages were not successful systems to adopt. So what works? What really works?
A wedding is just a ceremony, it will come, and it will go, you will be upset and happy sometimes at the same time, you will throw a bouquet, you will cut a cake, you will dance your heart out in front of family and friends and you will say I do to the one you love, the one you choose, it’s alright, enjoy it. A wedding is just a ceremony, marriage is the journey, it comes after your ceremony, and it is the more impactful one. Remember that. If you are engaged or know someone who is engaged and would need help planning their wedding, I wrote a post 10 tips to plan a successful wedding that will be helpful. Ain’t no shame in my plug game.
We are all on some Journey, the journey to “I do”, the journey to financial freedom, the journey to parenthood, friendship etc. This part has Tunde written all over it (this is how he talks all the time I kid you not). The end doesn’t necessarily matter, well it does but not now. For now, appreciate the journey, whatever type it is, appreciate it, enjoy it, learn from it. You cannot control another human being no matter how much you love them, you can only try to positively influence them and vice versa. However, always do your best so you can be at peace no matter how it turns out. You will die one day, I know its corny and simplistic but it’s one of the least thought about facts of life. This is not supposed to be depressing, it is supposed to give us perspective. Take advantage of each life opportunity, live, love, forgive and serve so when the inevitable end comes, you have minimal regrets.
So back to the original question, “should you get married ?” I guess I don’t know, and I will let you draw your conclusions, I don’t believe in the one but I believe in the one you choose. So for me, no matter what the outcome is, it’s worth it because of the person I chose to do it with.
For this journey of life, we are all embarking on, I wish us all good luck, favor and a lot of gingersnap cookies.
So should you get married? Let’s know what you think, please leave your comments below.
So should you get married? Let’s know what you think, please leave your comments below.